For the past 13 years, Craig A. Meyer’s Elton John tribute show has pretty much been a full-time pursuit.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he performed about 40 percent of his gigs on cruise ships. He also plays in performing arts centers, festivals, galas, casinos and private parties.
“I did a wedding on the campus at the University of Arkansas in October (2021),” he said. “I’ve done a wedding when I made my arrival in a helicopter. I’ve done small private parties. It runs the gamut. Whether I’m performing for 10 or 10,000, they get the same show because I love what I do.
“All I’ve wanted to be in life is a working actor, and that’s exactly what I am. I’m blessed people pay me money for something I enjoy doing.”
The 1981 Carmel High School graduate will perform his “Remember When Rock Was Young, The Elton John Tribute” show at 8 p.m. March 18 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Actors Theatre of Indiana is presenting the show.
Meyer met ATI co-founder Don Farrell through connections in New York and Atlanta.
‘We became friends and he’s been trying to get me to ATI for the better part of five years,” Meyer said. “It will actually be my first performance in the Indianapolis/Carmel area since I left high school.”
Meyer appeared in several shows at CHS and was a member of the Ambassadors mixed show choir. At a young age, Meyer acted in Los Angeles before his family moved to Carmel in the late ‘70s.
Meyer received his Screen Actors Guild card at age 11.
“It was amazing for my sister and I to end up in the program that was run there at Carmel,” Meyer said. “The opportunities were just amazing.”
Through the years, Meyer was worked in TV, film and theater. He has performed in Broadway shows and national tours. He has performed internationally and recorded with Frankie Valli and Barry Manilow.
Seventeen years ago, he moved to Atlanta.
“I literally backed into this Elton John thing,” he said. “It was not anything I planned on doing.”
A woman, who performed a Dolly Parton tribute show, attended a class he was teaching.
“She said there has to be someone there you could be doing,” Meyer said. “I don’t want to go to the elephant graveyard of entertainment and be an impersonator.’”
Eventually during one of his shows, he performed a couple of Elton John songs on piano.
“A dozen people came up and said there was a moment they could hear Elton in my hands and in my voice,” Meyer said.
Meyer and a friend picked out some Elton John outfits, and she sent photos and a demo to people she knew in the entertainment industry.
“I thought it would be a side hustle with all the things I was doing in Atlanta,” Meyer said. “In 18 months, I was doing my first show in Vegas. A year after that, I was doing my first symphony show with a 50-piece orchestra. It’s just grown.”
Meyer said he has crafted the show to take the audience on an emotional journey.
“I put the pressure on, I take the pressure off, so it’s satisfying. It’s not just a bunch of songs strung together,” he said. “Every song in the show has something about it that I enjoy.”
He said the best part is when he begins to play the final few songs.
“I get to the place where I do ‘Your Song’ and it’s just me and the piano and the audience,” Meyer said. “It’s my favorite moment where if I’ve done my job correctly, it’s this great intimate moment that happens between me and the audience and I know that I’ve landed the plane.
“They’ve had a great time and I’ve convinced them that I’m the closest thing they’ll have to seeing Elton John without seeing him.”
For tickets, visit thecenterpresents.org. For more on Meyer, visit almosteltonjohn.com.